Dog Training

How to Train your Dog to Come When Called

Teaching your dog to come back when you call isn’t intrinsically difficult,but owners often don’t put enough work into it to make their pets’ recalls foolproof. The exercises here will remind you of the basic steps, but make sure you practice recall from the day you get your dog and keep practicing every single day.


Teach your dog to come when you call.Your dog should already know “Watch Me” (see here) and be responding to his name reliably. Aim to spend five minutes on recall every day. You can split it into two or three mini-sessions.

  1. Start indoors with no distractions. Arm yourself with a few treats and position yourself a few steps away from your dog.
  2. Say your dog’s name. As he looks at you, show him a treat. As he starts to move toward you, say “Come!” As soon as he reaches you, praise him and give him the treat.
  3. Show him another treat and back away from him, saying “Come!” As he moves toward you, back away from him; he’ll follow you. Stop after a few seconds and give him the treat.
  4. Now call him from farther away, using his name and “Come!” in an upbeat, enthusiastic voice. When he reaches you, give him the treat.
  5. Gradually move farther away until you’re calling him from the across the room.
  6. When your dog is coming to you in the house every time you call him, move the exercise outside into the
  7. Introduce recall when other things are going on—call your dog to you at random moments during the day in the house or backyard and always praise and treat him when he comes. Start to reduce the treats a little more, but still give out the occasional windfall bonus, particularly when he comes promptly—a pleasant
    surprise will pay off in reinforcement terms.
  8. When he’s coming to you every single time he’s called around the house and backyard, try out his recall when you’re out and about with more distractions. Play it safe; don’t let him get too far off before you call him. And never stop practicing regularly.


If you make recall rewarding for your dog, he will learn that it’s always worth
his while to come when you call.


If you know that your dog will come back to you as soon as he’s called, you’ll
be able to allow him more freedom when you’re out and about. Recall is also
key to keeping him safe: you don’t want a “good enough” recall, you want a
perfect one.


Praise him warmly (even if you don’t feel like it) and give him a treat. Never scold your dog when he comes back to you, whatever the circumstances. If necessary, take the exercise back a step or two, going back to the backyard or calling when he’s already nearby.


I'm a professional dog trainer who is sharing my journey as I transition to positive reinforcement based dog training methods.

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